Ali Imran Atta
With the extremist Taliban’s myopic view of female education, The KPK government must allow Afghan female students to finish their degrees in neighbouring universities. This would enable the Islamabad policymakers to launch fresh Kabul policy, which it desperately needs following its recent unproductive talks and setbacks with the Taliban clergy administration. Regrettably, the Taliban clergy rulers have completely reverted to their medieval and myopic approach towards female education, which is based on their orthodox interpretations of Islam enshrined in the Deobandi and Wahabi schools of thought. In Islam, women have their own social and legal identities, as well as civil, social, socioeconomic, and cultural rights.
A woman has the right to inherit, divorce, and obtain alimony and child custody, which Islam established before so many other religions. Many notable women in Islamic history include Hazrat Khadija, Hazrat Ayesha, Hazrat Zainab bint Ali, and Hazrat Rabia Basri. Thousands of Muslim women keep controlling a variety of areas, including politics, education, health, science, and commerce. Nowadays, among them are Indonesia’s first Muslim female president, Tunisia’s prime minister, Turkey’s prime minister, software engineer Anousheh Ansari, and Malala Yousufzai, the youngest Nobel laureate. Although the war has almost finished and there is some peace in Afghanistan, basic women’s rights are being severely restricted. Islamabad and some other countries have stayed active with the Taliban clergy administration, but there is no indication that they have formally recognized them. The Taliban’s inflexibility, fostered by hardliners among them, regarding education, women’s rights, and other human rights, as well as their continuous violation of promises made, have put them out of formal declaration by the world organizations, besides being a source of serious concern even among countries that had previously advocated for a more lenient approach toward them. Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership have gravely disappointed Muslims around the world by restricting women’s right to education and employment. These militants have corrupted the perception of a faith that allowed women to fully engage in all aspects of life. These prohibitions run counter to Islamic teachings.
Pakistan encourages the Afghan caretaker administration to lift these restrictions and allow Afghan women to contribute fully and invaluably to their country’s growth and progress. As a consequence, a year later, the country remains isolated internationally, as the Taliban, which favours a literal definition of religious law, has reneged on vows to alter their attitude on girls’ empowerment and women in government jobs, among other issues. Furthermore, Taliban officials have prohibited women from riding in cabs for more than 72 kilometres without being accompanied by (mahram) a male family member. Such acts are reminiscent of the tight laws imposed and executed by Mullah Omar’s Taliban leadership before 9/11. Under international criticism, the Taliban said earlier that they would resume higher schools for girls but immediately reversed their decision, destroying the aspirations and goals of a thousand girl students who were looking forward to returning to their studying.
The Taliban’s education authorities have justified their move by stating that a plan based on Islamic principles would be developed to reopen the schools; till now, female students would be unable to attend. The move to reopen girls’ high schools has been reversed, demonstrating that hardliners dominate the current administration and set the shots. The decision was made at a council meeting. Moreover, in a continued effort to imprint its conservative rule, the dictatorship has placed restrictions on the country’s media and clamped down on peaceful demonstrations. Such measures simply serve to highlight one point: the Taliban would like to have their obscurantist ideas triumph over international involvement, and the fundamentalists among themselves have no reservations about marginalizing the more conservative Taliban components to achieve so.
Such an attitude will very certainly spell disaster for a nation already facing numerous economic, social, and political issues. There appears to be little recognition among Taliban leaders that the country’s issues cannot be fixed until Afghanistan continues to be isolated and separated from the rest of such world, which is unwilling to support a regressive rule that violates basic human rights including equal rights for women. Despite some humanitarian assistance from the international world, which helped to lessen the hardship in Afghanistan last winter, the situation is far from over. Raising the regime’s international sanctions will only make matters worse. With such a disregard for human rights, especially the Taliban’s U-turn on securing girls’ education – a vital condition for donors if Afghanistan is to accept foreign money and recognition – funders are unlikely to step forward.
The regime’s actions may destroy billions of dollars in international aid. The ‘caricature’ of Muslim women that dominates public opinion, primarily in the West, is “based on misinformation of our past, awareness of our traditional, historical traditions, and capacities that women have performed” in Muslim cultures. Fundamentalists and the Afghan Taliban, who do not symbolize our faith, have essentially stolen the meaning of our religion.
Taliban clergy are a fact, and they’re not going to disappear anytime soon, at least not in the foreseeable future. Through economic cooperation and involvement, they hope to increase their political leverage in the region. Their policies toward women, ethnic and political opposition, and terrorist networks, on the other hand, will continue to pose new domestic and foreign issues. Dependent on their mindset and interior consensus, they have equal possibilities of bringing about mid- to lengthy order or turmoil in the country. Islamabad may no longer have much influence to lead or encourage the Taliban. Islamabad’s policymakers have failed to use its influence over Kabul positively. Frequent border closures and visa restrictions for Afghans seeking to visit Pakistan for healthcare, trade, or transportation are proving unproductive. Afghanistan is both a problem and a chance for Pakistan, and it is up to the state authorities to turn the obstacles into opportunities. A myopic approach comprising either full collaboration or no engagement will complicate bilateral relations. The process of transformation may be gradual, but Pakistan can have a progressive communication strategy with the Taliban, and worldwide and regional parties, including the New Dhali, China, Iran, and Central Asian governments, can be involved in specific efforts. All the neighbours may assist the Taliban in shedding their ideological load. Nonetheless, Pakistan must eliminate any slight symptoms remaining in its security policy regarding the application of religious or ideological beliefs for political reasons. It offers the institution and its population false hope and kills practicality. What Pakistan may take from the Taliban leadership is that an ideological alliance only works when the objectives of both parties align on humanitarian laws and principles, the rest is rubbish.